A number of signs opposing legislation to protect transgender people from discrimination have popped up in Vancouver’s West End, a neighbourhood that has long been associated with the city’s LGBTQ community.
Bill C-16 aims to amend “the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination,” according to the text of the proposed legislation.
The posters, which have been spotted on Davie Street, are addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“In order to be a Feminist, you have to believe WOMAN means something. Take action against Bill C-16,” the posters read.
LGBTQ advocates are concerned that the posters have appeared in a community that prides itself on inclusivity.
WATCH: Anti-transgender rights posters in West End
“When you walk past posters like that in your communities it’s really quite hurtful,” Qmunity executive director C.J. Rowe said.
Pastor Paul Dirks, who founded the poster campaign, worries that Bill C-16 will lead to consequences such as men being allowed in women’s washrooms.
“We’re concerned about predators who are going to prey on women and take advantage of these laws,” he said.
Dirks admitted the campaign hasn’t made him popular.
“I’ve received some hate mail and different things, but that’s OK,” he said. “I’m willing to stand up for women.”
A recent survey by the Angus Reid Institute suggested that many Canadians do not share his concerns.
Eighty-four per cent of those surveyed supported the protection of gender identity and said fears over Bill C-16 are unwarranted.
“People who put up these posters are obsessed with myths that are unfounded about supposed dangers that trans women pose,” said Morgane Oger, chair of the Trans Alliance Society and a BC NDP candidate in the riding of Vancouver-False Creek in May’s provincial election.
“Transgender people need to hear that their rights, their human rights, their dignity is protected within our Human Rights Act,” Rowe said.
The bill, which was sponsored by Minister of Justice and Vancouver-Granville MP Jody Wilson-Raybould, is now in the Senate.
– With files from Tanya Beja and Andrew Russell